1705-11-11 – Battle of Schibo
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Prelude to the Battle
In the summer of 1705, Rákóczi moved with the main body of his army towards the Waag River (present-day Váh/SK). On 12 August, he was defeated by FM Ludwig Count Herbeville near Pudmeritz (present-day Budmerice/SK). Furthermore, G.d.C Jean-Louis de Bussy-Rabutin still defended Transylvania against the rebels. At the end of October, Herbeville assembled all available troops in Hungary and marched to Transylvania to support Rabutin.
On 10 November late in the afternoon, the first elements of Herbeville's Army arrived before Schibo (present-day Jibou/RO). Herbeville decided to encamp south of Schibo, near the village of Szamos (unidentified location). He took quarters in the village with his generals. When Rákóczi realized that the Imperialists were advancing on Schibo, he marched with his whole army towards the town, leaving only 2 bns to guard the entrenchments at the Karika Pass. He also sent a message to Károlyi, urging him to send the Sennyey Brigade through the Karika Pass to turn Herbeville's positions. Rákóczi’s Army reached the vicinity of Szamos late in the evening.
At dusk, Herbeville and his generals personally reconnoitred the Kuruc lines and discussed their plan of attack.
During the night of November 10 to 11, the rest of Herbeville's exhausted infantry finally reached Schibo.
Rákóczi’s Army had spent the night of November 10 to 11 deployed as follows:
- Right wing under Maréchal Pierre Pucho, Marquis des Alleurs behind the right bank of the Egregy stream
- 12 artillery pieces along the right bank of the Egregy stream
- 2,500 men in the entrenchments between Szamos and the left wing
- 3,000 men with 13 artillery pieces in second line behind the entrenchments
- A Reserve of French grenadiers
- A hillock between the right and left wings, on the right bank of the Egregy stream left without entrenchments.
- 5 artillery pieces on the hilltop
- Left wing under Simon Forgách behind a line of entrenchments running perpendicular to the left bank of the Egregy stream
- 4 artillery pieces
- Army Reserve under Rákóczi deployed 15 minutes away from the the main positions, south of the village of Turbucza (present-day Turbuţa/RO).
- 1,000 horse
Description of Events
In the morning of 11 November, Herbeville deployed his corps in order of battle
- right flank: Imperial cavalry under General Caraffa
- right wing: Imperial infantry under General Löwenburg assisted by Colonel Toll, Colonel Toldo and Colonel Wachtendonk
- 5 grenadier coys in first line
- 10 bns deployed in a single line
- centre: Imperial cavalry under Lieutenant-General Cusani
- left wing under the Danish General Harboe assisted by Colonel Maltzahn, Colonel Osten and General Virmond
- first line
- 4 Danish grenadier coys in first line
- 8 Danish bns and 2 Imperial bns
- second line
- Danish cavalry under the Danish General Gerstorff
- third line
- the “Raizen” (Serbian) militia
- first line
Rákóczi and Simon Forgách were waiting with 23,836 Kurucs (rebels) for the Imperial army in well secured entrenchments near Schibo (aka Sibó, Szibo, present-day Jibo/RO). Furthermore, Sándor Károlyi had sent a courier to Rákóczi to confirm that, according to his orders, he had taken position on the height between Szamos and Schibo in the rear of Herbeville's positions.
Herbeville's Corps advanced under heavy rain, but as its first line reached the hilltop next to the rebel camp, rain stopped and sun showed up through the clouds.
At first, Rákóczi joined des Alleurs on the right wing but as the Imperialists did not move forward, he left to join Forgách on the left wing, dining at the castle of his friend László Csáky, some 30 minutes away from his main lines.
Around 3:30 p.m., the two wings of Herbeville’s Army advanced simultaneously.
General Harboe with the left wing crossed the Egregy stream and advanced on the entrenchments which formed the right of the Kuruc positions. The Danes only came under fire when they climbed the slopes of the entrenchments defended by des Alleurs. When they reached the entrenchments, they were greeted by hand grenades and heavy musket fire. They were driven back three times. At this moment, General Virmond, who had been posted to the right of the Danes with 2 Imperial bns, arrived at these entrenchments. Jumping off his horse, he took the lead of the decimated grenadiers and attacked the entrenchments for a fourth time. Meanwhile, General Gerstorff, who was posted to the left of the Danish infantry, also reached the entrenchments with his Danish dragoons and the Fels Dragoons, who dismounted and launched an attack. These combined assaults were finally successful and decided the fate of the battle on the right wing of the Kurucs.
General Löwenburg with the right wing advanced towards the Egregy stream. As he approached, he noticed that the entrenchments of the Kurucs did not form a continuous line and that a steep hill with some cannon at its summit was not fortified. This was the hill which separated the two wings of Rákóczi’s Army. At the head of his grenadiers, he forced the crossing of the Egregy stream. He then sent Salm Infantry, which was posted on his right flank to make itself master of the redoubt located at the extreme left of Forgách’s position. His entire wing advanced under a murderous fire and managed to storm several parts of the entrenchments on their first attempt. However, the initial attack of Colonel Wachtendonk of Deutschmeister Infantry failed. His troops had barely reached the top of the hill when they came face to face with des Alleurs’ Reserve, which counterattacked and drove them back.
Wachtendonk rallied his troops under cover of the hill and then held his ground until 3 sqns of the Althann Dragoons, sent forward by General Löwenburg, came to his support. Wachtendonk then renewed his attack against the hill, supported by the dragoons. He met with little resistance. His troops stormed the breastwork and the entrenchments. The Kuruc right wing fled in panic.
During the attack of the two wing of Imperialist infantry, around 4:00 p.m., General Glöckelsperg led the cavalry brigades of Cusani and Caraffa forward, using forest paths. He then broke through the unfortified gap in the Kuruc line of entrenchments.
Forgách’s isolated wing was then attacked simultaneously by cavalry and infantry while the Serbian militia of Tököli, Luka and Pflugsuddenly appeared in the rear of the Forgách’s troops, thus cutting his line of retreat.
Károlyi with the Kuruc cavalry had managed to take position in the rear of Herbeville's Corps but he did did not intervene to support Rákóczi who was defeated.
Rákóczi was still dining when he heard the din of battle. He immediately galloped towards the entrenchments but met des Alleurs and Forgách on his way. The battle was already lost. Rákóczi rode towards the mountains and designated Szamosújvár (present-day Gherla/RO) as the gathering point for his army.
The rebels fled, pursued by the Imperial cavalry. Imperial soldiers fiercely hated the Kurucs. Therefore only a few rebels were taken prisoners. Around 4,000 of the best Hungarian (only 400 according to a Hungarian source) and French soldiers remained on the field. Imperial troops captured 50 flags, 28 guns (out of 34) and many ammunition wagons. The Imperialists losses were around 450 men, killed or wounded.
In his relation of the battle Herbeville wrote:
- “..the Colona von Fels Dragoons and Gerstorff Dragoons (the Danish Dragoons), from the second line of the right wing, first attacked mounted, they then dismounted near the entrenchments and fought sword in hands alongside the infantry…”
On 12 November, Colonel Glöckelsberg occupied Klausenburg (Cluj/RO). Within the next days, Herbeville made himself master of all castles and small fortresses in the country. Afterwards, the Transylvania Estates, swore loyalty to the Emperor in Hermannstadt (Sibiu/RO).
Order of Battle
Imperialist Order of Battle
Commander-in-Chief: General Herbeville
- Danish 1st Danske Infantry (2 bns, 1 grenadier coy) under Colonel Harboe
- Danish 2nd Danske Infantry (2 bns, 1 grenadier coy) under Colonel Osten
- Danish 3rd Danske Infantry (2 bns, 1 grenadier coy) under Colonel Maltzan
- Danish 4th Danske Infantry (2 bns, 1 grenadier coy) under Colonel Endens
- Austrian Converged Grenadiers (5 coys drawn from Salm, Thürheim, Virmond, Neuburg and Jörger zu Tollet)
- Austrian Salm Infantry (3 bns)
- Austrian Thürheim Infantry (1 bn)
- Austrian Virmond Infantry (1 bn)
- Austrian Neuburg Infantry (1 bn) unidentified unit
- Austrian Jörger zu Tollet Infantry (3 bns)
- Austrian Bayreuth Dragoons
- Austrian Fels Dragoons
- Danish Gerstorff Dragoons
- Austrian Althann Dragoon
- Lower Austria Militia Cavalry (6 coys)
- Serbian Militia
Note: the Montecuccoli Cuirassiers were guarding the lines of communication with Moravia
Kuruc Order of Battle
Commanders-in-chief: Ferenc II Rákóczi
Summary: 23,836 men with 34 artillery pieces
- German fusiliers (3,363 men)
- Roth Infantry (1,400 men)
- Urban Infantry (600 men)
- Ritter Infantry (800 men)
- Bremer Infantry (563 men)
- French grenadiers (500 men)
- Hungarian infantry (4,500 men)
- Gaydin Hayducks (800 men)
- Ubarian Hayducks (700 men)
- Tamássian Hayducks (3,000 men)
- German cavalry (2,173 men)
- Anton Esterházy Cavalry (580 men)
- Forách Cavalry (400 men)
- Nagy János Cavalry (893 men)
- Grenadiers à Cheval (100 men)
- Converged Carabiniers (200 men).
- Hungarian cavalry (13,300 men)
- Komlossi Cavalry (4,300 men)
- Bony Cavalry (5,000 men)
- Pongrácz Cavalry (4,000 men)
Bánlaky, József: A Magyar Nemzet Hadtörténelme A zsibói csata 1705. november 11.-én.
Markó, Árpá: Les Soldats Français dans la Guerre d’Indépendace du Prince François II Rákóczi (1703-1711), p. 272
Treuenfest, A. v.: Geschichte des k. k. Infanterie-Regimentes Hoch- und Deutschmeister Nr. 4, Vienna 1879
Segeš: Vojenské dejiny Slovenska, vol. II, p. 202, Bratislava/SK 1995
Vaupell, Otto: Den danske haers historie til nutiden og den norske haers historie indtil 1814. 2, p. 318
Spanischer Successions-Krieg. Feldzug 1705. Nach den Feld-Acten und anderen authentischen Quellen bearbeitet. Feldzüge des Prinzen Eugen von Savoyen 1. Serie VII. Vienna 1881
Nafziger Collection - Imperial Forces Battle of Sibo (Hungary) November 1705
Harald Skala for an initial version of this article and Jörg Meier for the detailed Kuruc order of battle